Following AARP Story, GOP Has New Ammunition in Goal of Cutting Social Security

June 24, 2011

According to Politico (http://politi.co/kxt85x), the seniors lobby AARP is in “damage-control mode” following a news report last Friday in The Wall Street Journal that the group is open to cuts to Social Security benefits. A nationwide tour by AARP soliciting feedback from their members and seniors about what Social Security reforms the group should propose is now on hold until after the current round of deficit talks in Washington passes, according to David Certner, AARP’s Legislative Director. Still, Politico reports, the AARP story “gave Republicans new ammunition to push entitlement reforms in talks over slashing the deficit.” In response to the news story, Alliance members have sent more than 7,500 messages to U.S. House members saying that they do not support cuts to Social Security. “Thank you, Alliance members who have contacted your Member of Congress,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Elected officials need to hear that there are many ways to strengthen Social Security besides cutting benefits. Raising the payroll cap on earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax, for instance, would preserve the program without sending millions of seniors into poverty.” If you have not yet contacted your Member of Congress but would like to, go to http://bit.ly/ldixlQ.

 

Social Security Beneficiaries Would Suffer From Readjusted CPI, Report Says

As the debate over how to cure America’s budget woes grows more contentious in Congress, proposals that would directly threaten Social Security beneficiaries continue to be considered on Capitol Hill. One such proposal recommends reducing Social Security’s Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) by reworking the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Workers (CPI-U) based on a chain-weighted formula. This ‘chained’ formula is designed to reflect changes in consumption patterns of a broad range of goods and services per month. Simply put, a ‘chained’ CPI is an aggressive, compounded cut to Social Security benefits that the chief actuary predicts will decrease benefits for the average recipient by $1,400 over a 30-year span. A troubling statistic given that 74% of all beneficiaries over the age of 80 rely on Social Security for more than half of their income. “While some choose to hide behind the policy-speak of calling it a ‘Chained-CPI,’ the cold reality is that it would be an immediate cut in Social Security benefits,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. Coyle continued, “The Chief Actuary’s report is a reminder that with so many seniors already struggling to get by, this would be devastating for retirees all across the country. Though the proposal is nowhere near close to being finalized, it does ignore the simple fact that Social Security has not contributed one cent to America’s deficit.”

 

Appeal Your Insurance Company’s Ruling? Why Not, You Have a Good Chance

Nothing is more frustrating or disheartening than getting in a fight with your health insurance company over a denied request. Many beneficiaries are unaware they have the ability to file an appeal. A new study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has provided some uplifting news in this regard. The findings show that most denied claims amounted from a clear-cut billing or eligibility issue, not over whether a procedure was medically necessary. Thus, the odds of winning an appeal are around 50/50, far higher than any consumer might have imagined. “Insurance companies must be held accountable for their actions, whether it’s a billing mistake or denying someone care,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. He elaborated, “My hope is that this report will reinvigorate consumers to stand up for their basic health rights and needs.” One caveat is that an individual must compose their appeal to specifically address and refute an insurance company’s reasons for a denial. Health policy experts therefore strongly recommend that people contact their insurance company before filing an appeal.

 

State Round-up: Florida, Wisconsin

This Monday at FLARA’s annual legislative conference in Orlando, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown joined seniors at an event to reaffirm support for Social Security and Medicare and to oppose any cuts to these programs. Tony Fransetta, President of the Florida Alliance, said, “The Florida Alliance for Retired Americans will not work in a cooperative spirit with organizations or individuals who work to make changes to these great American programs.”

 

The Wisconsin Alliance, together with Veterans for Peace and other community organizations, hosted town hall meetings in Portage and River Falls, Wisconsin this past Tuesday and Thursday to examine the implications of Governor Scott Walker’s 2011-2013 budget for Wisconsinites. The meetings covered the likely effects of cuts for community programs, public schools, public transportation and public services.

 

June is HHS’ Preventive Benefits Campaign

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has developed a list of materials for Medicare beneficiaries for the June 2011 Preventive Benefits Campaign. Available materials include: Are You Up-To-Date on Your Preventive Services?, The Annual Wellness Visit, and The Guide To Medicare Preventive Services. Free services offered since the Affordable Care Act passed include: Cardiovascular, cancer, and diabetes screenings; pap tests; pelvic exams; and annual check-ups. Click on http://bit.ly/kCWJ6v to download the full listing of materials and services offered. According to a recent study, only one in six Medicare beneficiaries is taking advantage of the free preventive care.

 

Alliance Educational Fund Awards Seidman Prize

The Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund awarded its sixth annual Bert and Annabel Seidman Prize for Advancing Social Policy to National Labor College (NLC) student Gary Schaible, a member of the Transport Workers Union of America from Lewisville, Texas.  Mr. Schaible was awarded the prize for his senior project entitled, Retirement?  — Not In This Lifetime: How Retirement for Aircraft Mechanics Is Becoming a Dream of The Past. The prize, and its accompanying $3,000 honorarium, encourages NLC students to research and analyze social policies that affect the older population.  The winning entry conducted a thorough analysis focusing on why union members, specifically aircraft mechanics, have trouble securing a safe and lasting retirement. Ms. Easterling said of Mr. Schaible’s paper, “Bert and Annabel Seidman were very gracious people who were deeply committed to improving the lives of working Americans.  I can think of no better way to honor their memory than Mr. Schaible’s paper on the importance of securing a dignified retirement for all Americans.”


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